How much do you now owe? Is it up to N2.7M? I know someone who managed to pay off that amount in just over two years. He shared his ordeal and eventual triumph with me, and I know you can do it, too.
For seven years Seun struggled with light, water, rent, transport, and child support. The recent addition to that list is his MMM debts. Yes, MMM the Ponzi scheme that ruined a lot of people’s lives and businesses. It nearly ruined him too. Of all his debts, the MMM thing was the highest.
The MMM thing came and Seun started cashing out in millions. Soon, he introduced friends to it. One of such friends didn’t know how to go about it, so Seun offered to run it from his end. He would give Seun the money and Seun would pay in, collect the income and transfer to him.
At first, they started with small figures. But after a while, the deposits increased. They started investing in hundreds of thousands. Seun soon resigned from his place of work and started living the big man’s life. He totally forgot to clear his outstanding debts.
The things he spent money on included beer parlor sessions with ‘the boys’, weekends in hotels, household gadgets, expensive clothes, and frequent trips to his hometown. He was living his best life at 26, and he actually thought he had found financial stability. To him, nothing could ever go wrong.
The Big Crash – MMM
We all know what happened next. The big crash happened and Seun was hit badly. Seun’s friend had given him a total of N1.6M to invest when it happened. Both Seun’s money and that of his friend went down the drain at the same time. Seun told his friend and man denied him. He said he loaned him the money, and that he wanted his money back.
My friend Seun started running from place to place to avoid paying bills. As soon as due dates begin to approach, he would move to a new area. It was his life before MMM, shamefully, it was his life after.
Old Habits Never Die?
Like Seun (of before), a lot of persons are in the habit of running away from bills. One would think that when the money comes, they would do the needful and pay up. But owing is a habit that soon becomes a lifestyle and people who are caught up in its web find it difficult to come out. People like that see bills as “giving someone else their money”, and are always coming up with reasons why they need the money more than a service provider.
I’m here to point out that owing is a habit and not a curse. Like Seun (of today), you can come out of it with consistent efforts. With a little hard work, you can finally be free. You will have to decide to a) get out of your debts, and b) go a step further to achieve financial stability (the right way)
Today, Seun has no consumer debts. By choice, he is debt-free. At 36, he lives with his wife and daughter in his own house. His daughter, Edna, goes to one of the best schools in Abuja, and his wife owns a private nursery school. He may not be “wealthy”, but all his debts are long gone.
He says that contrary to what hundreds of marketers and self-described personal finance “experts” will try to sell you, there is no “secret” to getting out of debt. No right way. No silver bullet. To permanently rid yourself of debts, you must:
- Confront your bills regularly.
- Permanently change the behaviors that might get you into debts.
- Make more than enough money to pay your bills and take care of other things.
Throughout all the years he carried his debts around, he wasn’t happy. But it wasn’t until he met the three criteria above that he was able to do something about it. First, he had to stop living in denial; telling himself that the bills will go away. He needed a reality check and a sincere look at how much he was owing and what it would take to get out.
Secondly, he needed to figure out why he was in debt in the first place, and stop doing those things. He had to tone a lot of things down. For himself and for his child.
Finally, he had to find a way to earn enough to repay the outstanding bills and start afresh. So he started working two jobs. During the day, he was a teacher in a public school, and at night, he was a writer.
Now, let’s break this down and see how you can apply these three requirements to your own life. I know you might be afraid of how much outstanding bills you have, but ignoring the problem will never make it go away.
Read also: AJO: A LESSON ON CONSISTENCY
Principles for Financial Freedom
Most persons do minimum payments when their bills come in and refuse to pay the rest until the following month. If this is you, you will have to stop. You can’t keep ‘sorting’ NEPA and Water Board officials. They will take your bribe and ‘sort’ themselves out while your bill keeps piling. While they make your problem go away for a period, they will surely come back. And the day you stop ‘sorting’, your BILL comes to haunt you. Tally up all your debts and begin the process of paying up.
Getting out of debt begins by eliminating the reasons you went into debt in the first place. Even winning the lottery won’t solve your problem if you never learn how to spend less than you have.
I agree that people get into debt for different reasons. But why you got in doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you don’t let it happen again! Live within your means and spend less than you earn.
If you want to get out of debt by yourself, you need to earn enough money to get by daily and still pay up your debts in installments.
Be Like My Friend, Seun
Seun is not a superhuman. He made the decision to get out of a predicament that was going to deny him the opportunity to see his daughter grow.
All of the changes that happened, did not happen in one night, two years or even four. If you put your mind to it, you can get out of debt, you can increase your income, and you can get a better job. I mean, you can even start a part-time business.
If you must, find stuff you don’t use anymore and sell them. Put in efforts, work harder and work smarter. The truth remains that none of all I have said would mean anything unless you take action. Getting out of debt is a long process, so you will have to start today. Take a really good look at those bills, take them by the hand and walk them out of your life.